Our first stop was to buy the food we needed for the monks breakfast. Of course this is Asia and nothing is included in the price of our tour. So we all cough up what turned out to be exorbitant prices for some very simple food packages but what the hell, you're a captive audience and another lesson to learn. If I had of realized we needed to stop and do that I would have insisted we run past the fresh food markets in Bangkok on the way out. That would have given the girls a great market bargaining experience as well and we could have actually arrived with some decent quality food.
Cest La Vie - Broke one of my golden rules. Always Ask - so no-one but myself to blame.
Reassuringly, there are a large army of non Thai volunteers which really put my mind at ease. While Asia is still sometimes very much “money at any cost” the American and Canadian volunteers I spoke to very much alleviated any drugging fears I had and were very active in promoting the tigers health and well being. One volunteer I spoke to has just finished a degree in wild animal management specialising in phsyco-symptomatic behaviors (yes that is a real thing apparently) and is doing his first year after uni here at the Tiger Temple facility. He is 9 months into his position here and has only good things to say.
I have to say being able to play with the cubs, feed them, see them interacting, playing with them on Tiger Island, and bathing them afterward was one of the best things I've ever done. I'm sure I'm going to be judged for perpetuating a product, but if we behaved better as humans and didn't destroy wild animals or their habitat, there would be no need for tigers in captivity. I would much rather creep through a jungle in the dead of night at great personal risk to myself and see a tiger from afar, but alas I've actually tried that a few times now with zero success. If just one person a day goes away from here and thinks about supporting a program that helps to stop the destruction of tigers habitat, I'm on board.
I spent 3 hours yesterday playing with Tigers! Playing with Tigers people!!
Mostly a little one (about Miss Monroe size). She got a bit boisterous and bit me, & the little Thai ladies were mortified – poor things – but I was having soooo much fun playing with her, and only a small bruise to show for it and guess what: I survived a Tiger Bite!!
- Spring for the Monks and Tiger cub experience. That's what the $100 was for and to have just 12 people doing that was amazing.
- Don't hand over your camera easily - they literally took about 400 photo's on my camera I had to wade through to clear space on my SD card.
- Take video - I forgot and it would have been much better than pics.
- Go with an open mind. It is what it is, but at the end of the day we spent the morning cuddling tiger cubs, bathing 6 month old tigers and having breakfast with the monks. It was an awesome day.